Credits for this page are to a "grateful reader of your website (that readers preferred wording)." It is exciting for me to correspond throughout the world with others as we perfect our understanding and use of AA's message.

Thankyou "grateful reader", RogerG - July 20, 2002

Humility: The Foundation Principle of each of A.A.'s Twelve Steps

"Indeed, the attainment of greater humility is the foundation principle of each of A.A.'s Twelve Steps. For without some degree of humility, no alcoholic can stay sober at all." (12 & 12 page 70)


An A.A. Definition of Humility

"Another great dividend we may expect from confiding our defects to another human being is humility---a word often misunderstood. To those who have made progress in A.A., it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be. Therefore, our first practical move toward humility must consist of recognizing our deficiencies." (12 & 12. Pg. 58)

Regarding "a clear recognition"

by RogerG July 2002

The Big Book appendix, "Spiritual Experience" offers a path to "Clear recognition." From that appendix,

"Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the "educational variety" because they develop slowly over a period of time.    Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself.    He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life, that such a change could hardly have been brought about by him alone.    What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self-discipline."

The Big Book Steps 4 & 5 describe an educational process to indentify details of, research sane ideals and develop solutions for underlying causes of alcoholism and other problems.    

Accurate, thorough description and analysis (BBp70) of Resentments, Fears and Sex Episodes initiate this lifelong process.

Answering in a tangible manner (e.g. pen and paper) all questions in the BB step 4 about each episode is a major start to clear regognition.

The BB question "What should we have done instead?", suggests learning better responses to past flaws from recovered persons and other sources of effective action.

The 12&12 adds "The sponsor probably points out that the newcomer has some assets which can be noted along with his liabilities. This tends to clear away morbidity and encourage balance."

Note that I have not yet mentioned God. According to the 12&12 step 2, "The fact was we had not cleaned house so the Grace of God could enter."

Tangible earth level pen, paper with BB step 4 format and outside guidance produces surprising results, even for the aethiest.

God believers can then add the AA prayers to cinch the process. The Grace of God can now enter to help the person "match calamity with serenity."

The 12&12 step 5 suggests selection of helpers who have surmounted difficulties like your own. Consider their guidance and advice.

Also heed 12&12 step 5 wisdom that, "It is worth noting that people of very high spiritual development almost always insist on checking with friends or spiritual advisers the guidance they feel they have received from God." Double and triple check with others.

Avoid placing all trust in only one sponsor or other spiritual source. Intentions are usually sincere, but mistakes of understanding are common.

These words offer highlights which came to me over years. They are not a substitute for careful reading and rereading steps 4 & 5 from the Big Book and 12&12.

~Roger G - July 21, 2002

Regarding "what and who we really are"

"A.A. and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here." (Big book pg 449)

Regarding "what we could be"

"A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become HAPPILY AND USEFULLY WHOLE." (12 & 12 pg. 15)


How Do You Gain Humility?

"Humility, therefore for A.A.'s recovery, comes from tangible work that produces a permanent transformation of thinking and acting." ~Roger G

Humility and Spiritual Centeredness

"Our AA program is spiritually centered. Most of us have found enough humility to believe in and depend upon God. We have found that humility by facing the fact that alcoholism is a fatal malady over which we are individually powerless." (Bill W. The Language of the Heart. Pg. 7.)


Obtaining Humility

"Only by discussing ourselves, holding back nothing, only by being willing to take advice and accept direction could we set foot on the road to straight thinking, solid honesty, and genuine humility." (12 & 12. Pg. 59)

Humility and the "ism" of Alcoholism

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. "Ism" = Insecure, Selfish Me. "Ism" = I, Self, Me (Not a quote from Big Book or 12 & 12 but seems to reflect the spirit of the two)

Lack of Humility: The Crippling Handicap of the Alcoholic

"For thousands of years we have been demanding more than our share of security, prestige, and romance. When we seemed to be succeeding, we drank to dream still greater dreams. When we were frustrated, even in part, we drank for oblivion. Never was there enough of what we thought we wanted. In all these strivings, so many of them well-intentioned, our crippling handicap had been our lack of humility." (Bill W. 12 & 12. pg 71)

Lack of Humility = "Contempt Prior to Investigation" = The Key to Keeping Oneself in Everlasting Ignorance

"There is a principle which is a bar against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance---that principle is contempt prior to investigation. ~Herbert Spencer" ( Big Book Pg. 570)

How a lack of Humility expresses itself in Selfishness - Self-Centeredness

"Selfishness - self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt." (Big Book. Pg. 62)

Lack of Humility = Habitually trying to manipulate other to our willful desires

"When we habitually try to manipulate others to our own willful desire, they revolt, and resist us heavily. Then we develop hurt feelings, a sense of persecution, and a desire to retaliate. We have not once sought to be one in a family, to be a friend among friends." (Bill w. 12 & 12. Pg. 5)

Dr. Bob's Prayer on Humility

"Humility is perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, or irritable, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing that is done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble." (For years, Dr. Bob had this prayer on his desk. Author of the prayer is unknown.)

Courage and Humility

"Men and women who use alcohol as an escape are not the only ones who are afraid of life, hostile to the world, fleeing from it into loneliness. Millions who are not alcoholics are living today in illusory worlds, nurturing the basic anxieties and insecurities of human existence rather than face themselves with courage and humility. To these people, AA can offer as a cure no magic potion, no chemical formula, no powerful drug. But it can demonstrate to them how to use the tools of humility, honesty, devotion, and love which indeed are the heart of the Twelve Steps of our recovery." (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. Pg. 279)

Humility and the Steps

"It took me some time to realize that the Twelve Steps of AA were designed to help correct defects of character and so help remove the obsession to drink. The Twelve Steps, which to me are a spiritual way of living, soon meant honest thinking, not wishful thinking, open mindedness, a willingness to try and a faith to acceptance. They meant patience, tolerance and HUMILITY, and above all the belief that a Power greater than myself could help. That power I chose to call God." (Big Book. Pg. 381.)

Bill W.'s Thoughts On Humility

"I see humility for today as the safe and secure stance midway between violent emotional extremes. It is a quiet place where I can keep enough perspective and enough balance, to take my next small step up the clearly marked road that points toward eternal values. As I thus get down to my right size and stature, my self-concern and importance become amusing." (Bill W., 1961. The Language of the Heart. Pg. 258-9.

"I am still arrogant, self-righteous, with no humility, even phony at times, but I'm trying to be a better person and help my fellowman. Guess I'll never be a saint, but whatever I am, I want to be sober and in AA. The word "alcoholic" does not turn me off any more; in fact, it is music to my ears when it applies to me." (Big Book. Pg. 463)

Humility, Guilt and Pride

"Today I think I can trace a clear linkage between my guilt and my pride. In pride I could say, "Look at me, I am wonderful." In guilt, I would moan, "I'm awful." Therefore guilt is really the reverse side of the coin of pride. Guilt aims at self-destruction, and pride aims at the destruction of others. This is why I see humility for today as that safe and secure stance midway between these violent emotional extremes." (Bill W., June 1961. The Language of the Heart. Pg. 258.)

Humility: The Nourishing Ingredient That Gives Us Serenity

"Where humility had formerly stood for a forced feeding on humble pie, it now begins to mean the nourishing ingredient which can give us serenity. This improved perception of humility starts another revolutionary change in our outlook. It brought a measure of humility, which we soon discovered to be a healer of pain. We began to fear pain less, and desire humility more than ever." (12 & 12. Pg. 74-5)

Humility and Gratitude

(lack of humility = "great conceits")

"I try hard to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one's heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know." (Bill W. As Bill Sees It. Pg. 37)

Lack of Humility = Egocentricity

"Our unreasonable individualism (egocentricity if you like) was, of course, the main reason we all failed in life and betook ourselves to alcohol. When we couldn't coerce others into conformity with our own plans and desires, we drank. When others tried to coerce us, we also drank. Though now sober, we still have a strong hangover of these early traits which caused us to resist authority. Therein probably hangs a clue to our lack of personal government in AA." (Bill W. The Language of the Heart. Pg. 40)

Pride = Lack of Humility

"Pride is the basic breeder of most human difficulties, the chief block to true progress. When the satisfaction of our instincts for sex, security, and a place in society become the primary object of our lives, then pride steps in to justify our excesses." (Bill W. 12 & 12. Pg. 46)

Humility and Ambition

"True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the profound desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God." (12 &12. Pg. 124-125)

Humility: Insights From Roger G

 Following was on my website under "definitions" of AA terms. A grateful reader of my website expanded upon this above. RogerG

From the 12@12 (AA book "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions").
"Another great dividend we may expect from confiding our defects to another human being is humility-a word often misunderstood. To those who have made progress in A.A., it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be. Therefore, our first practical move toward humility must consist of recognizing our deficiencies." (end of quote)

On entering AA, the word humility jumped out from 12 steps printed on roller shades.
My lifelong perception of that word was wrong. I thought humility was to drive my old van with rust holes and wear old clothes. It took at least 8 years around AA to begin to comprehend the scope of humility as used by the 12 step program of recovery. And even more years to note the definition from the 12&12 quoted above in it's step 5.

. A "clear recognition" continues to develop with continuous action such as steps 4 and 5 as a way of life

The 12&12 and the Big Book (AA's book "Alcoholics Anonymous") step 4 and 5, also suggest down to earth level inquiry about sane ideals, principles and skills for a contented, useful life.

Humility, therefore for AA's recovery, comes from tangible work that produces a permanent transformation of thinking and acting.